By Emily Drooby
Valerie Casillo, a devoted parishioner at St. Helen Church in Howard Beach was devastated when she heard her church had been burglarized, unsure how to explain the incident to her young kids.
Casillo said, “My children, when they serve a funeral as altar servers, they give my children a little tip and my children always put it in the poor box. So, I knew it would hit home, and it really did.”
Casillo’s family is heartbroken, especially her young daughter who had recently put her money into the donations box.
Casillo explained, “She said she was really upset because they broke the Ten Commandments.”
Police are now on the hunt for a man and a woman who burglarized the church around 3am Thursday.
The first suspect entered through the unlocked outer door. The suspect then walked up to the second set of doors which were locked and forcefully pried them open. The Pastor, Father Francis Colamaria, said that next the female walked in and made the sign of the cross. Surveillance video shows her walk over to the Church’s four shrines, lifting up the collection boxes at each one and removing the cash, making away with an estimated $400.
Father Colamaria says it’s not just about the money, it’s about those who made an offering.
He said, “They have a personal relationship with these Saints whom they pray too…and then for someone to come along and violate that by stealing what they have offered to the Angels and Saints, not good, we are touching people on an emotional level.”
The church has increased it’s security.
Police are searching for the pair who took off in a red four-door Sedan.
As for Father Colamaria, he suggests the suspects learn a lesson from another pair of thieves. He explained, “The thieves who entered this church should take advice from the thieves that hung on the cross with Jesus on Good Friday, as one thief turned to the other, he said, ‘have you no fear of God?'”